Nintendo have confirmed the UK release date of their 3DS handheld games console. The successor to the record-breaking DS will touch down on March 25th 2011, though would not be pinned down on a UK price yet. (UPDATE: Reports are now coming in that HMV have set the pricing standard at £229.) It will launch in two colours, Aqua Blue and Cosmos Black.
Retail games are expected to start at around the £35 mark. 25 titles will be available during the first month of the console’s UK launch.
“We’re showing you something exciting today and truly unique”, said Jonathan Ross, host of the press event in Amsterdam where the details were revealed.
Laurent Fisher, Managing Director of Marketing and PR at Nintendo said, “We re-invented gaming with the DS touchscreen and the Wii Motion controller. We’re now here re-inventing all over again.”
In an interesting development, the 3DS will now automatically connect to public BT Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK, using a system called SpotPass. System updates and 3D video content from Eurosport (and in the future Sky 3D), will be available to download from the compatible hotspots. Aardman Animation Studios too will be producing exclusive Shaun The Sheep episodes for 3DS SpotPass users.
An internet browser and e-shop for digital game downloads will also come in the near future, with classic Nintendo titles up for grabs
It was revealed that the handheld will employ a Local Area Connection system called StreetPass, automatically exchanging data between nearby 3DS consoles, allowing for FourSquare style location info on your pals’ and stranger’s local Mii avatars. Long gone are the annoying friend codes from the original DS thanks to the streamlined StreetPass system.
Capcom’s Yoshinoro Ono spoke of the Street Pass system in their forthcoming Super Street Fighter IV 3DS edition, allowing collectible in-game figurines to fight independently of their owners, challenging other users when out and about. Ono also made a good-natured poke at the 3DS, calling it the “Virtual Boy 2″, or in other words a spiritual successor to Nintendo’s first failed attempt at handheld 3D.
Konami, Team Ninja and Ubisoft were also in attendance, vocally supporting the new hardware in a more respectful manner. Konami’s demo was particularly interesting, showing a new Pro Evolution Soccer 3DS title that used camera angles hugging far closer to players than traditional footie game’s side-line views in order to emphasise the 3D effects. It looked more like the Be A Pro modes seen in recent FIFA titles. Team Ninja also announced Dead Or Alive Dimensions, the first in the series to make it to a handheld console.
Next to speak was Mr Shibata, Head of Nintendo Europe. “We’re committed to working with third-party developers to expand the potential of the 3DS”, he said. “The third-party support we’ve received so far is very important to us. The 3DS gives developers the opportunity to work with their much loved characters in new ways.”
So, still interested after that whopping £229 price tag, making it the most expensive handheld console at launch of all time?
And is 3D as big a draw as the DS’s revolutionary touchscreen controls were, or are you still not sold after all the 3D hype? Let us know in the comments below.
Tech Digest will be going hands-on with all the games on show here in Amsterdam today, so check back soon for our thoughts.
By Gerald Lynch | January 19th, 2011